I began reading the book of Ezekiel last week, and the verses are filled with heaviness and sorrow because of the nation's infidelity. Many had gone into captivity in Babylon, with the impending judgment of Jerusalem on the horizon. The fall of the nation is a somber scene, which provides a sobering revelation reminding us physical idols of the past still exist but may look a bit differently today.
“Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and have put their sinful stumbling blocks in front of themselves. Should I actually let them inquire of me?” Ezekiel 14v3.
The enemy is slick, family. He isn't coming at God's children with overt sin; rather, hidden things are not easily detected. The goal is the same sin and separation from experiencing the goodness of God. The revelation: idols and altars can be easily set up because they stem from the position of our hearts.
What quickly came to mind is my eagerness, sometimes to build something, only to find I've become enamored with the process of "the build" somewhere, forgetting the One it's meant to glorify. The "build" can represent life or those things in it, relationships, career, ministry, time, whatever it is; But friends all of it ~ ALL of it belongs to Him.
When I get my lanes confused, I can begin to feel some sense of ownership, thereby quickly become frustrated, angry, and even fearful inside, because I have made it about me; therefore, it now depends on me. Beloved, this is not God's design. He is our Creator, and He lovingly cares for His creation. Our part is to allow Him, looking to Him as our Source for everything.
We live in an imperfect world, perilous times, where we must stay alert to the little details that can get us off track. Our journey is a process. Often, involving crushing, hardship, suffering but also containing blessing, goodness, and joy. There can be unnecessary stirring even strife because our affections have been misplaced, situations (good or bad) can become the first stone used to build an altar dishonoring God.
We were created for more; we were created for Him, and nothing else will ever satisfy! We have been entrusted with an assignment called life, to steward with His guidance, by His grace. We aren't meant to go rogue during our sojourn on earth. However, we see this is exactly what has happened to the nation. They became like the nations around them when they were chosen to be God's own special treasure. They were to set the example of what it meant to be blessed because the LORD was their God. Sweet friends, this is no different for us today.
Stay with me.
I felt challenged by the account of Ezekiel. I cannot point a finger at the nation. I don't know about you, but I won't bow down before an image, but sometimes, in all honesty, my heart has bowed to pride, power, status, money, deadlines, time, feelings, comparison, expectations, things, and worst of all me. I know it's harsh, right. It looks a little different for everyone, but I caution for us all to take stock by performing heart checks often.
There are tiny tradeoffs that can be made without really giving much thought. The enemy will use anything, even a good thing, as the lure into idolatry. Let's not get it twisted; idolatry is sin. Rest assured, whatever we spend time ruminating on can quickly become the object of our desire. Therefore, let's remain fully immersed in the word of God, walking in an awareness of His presence, and be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, which enables us to obey His voice. God gave us this word that would not be given to the same experience as the nation. He also gave us His word that we could walk as wise.
I want to share something else I found in my study in Ezekiel thus far. I discovered not only does idolatry hurt us, but it crushes the heart of our Father as well.
“Then your survivors will remember me among the nations where they are taken captive, how I was crushed by their promiscuous hearts that turned away from me and by their eyes that lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves because of the evil things they did, their detestable actions of every kind.” Ezekiel 6v9.
My heart broke when I read the verse from the prophet Ezekiel as he reveals the word of the Lord. It says, "I was crushed," allow His words to sink in. It "crushes" God's heart when people turn from Him and serve anything or anyone else. It literally "crushes" Him. He is complete and sufficient in Himself. He is God and doesn't need us, yet He wants us and loves us. This word, in-between passages of scripture, gripped my attention, beloved. My prayer is it will make yours as well.
Can you hear and feel the heart of God in these words?
He knows without Him; we are nothing. Do we get this? Apart from God, humanity is left empty, desolate, and exposed to the elements of a fallen world, in and of itself without remedy. He sent Jesus to redeem us. His heart hurts for what happens to those who choose to be separated from Him (not accepting Jesus), knowing that choice brings about the severest consequence of death and an eternity without Him.
Even more so, I am prompted to consider the pangs in His heart when we, His beloved children, fall into a decreased awareness of His presence because we've somehow become distracted, busy, or enticed by something. Please don't get me wrong, He never leaves us nor forsakes us, but in our preoccupation with anything else, we become unavailable to experience the fullness of Him. As beloved in Jesus, our position never changes, our salvation is not at stake, but one moment spent not enjoying God as our Source of everything - is a moment of loss. It is essentially neglecting the greatest benefit of being His child ~ being known and loved by Him.
Beloved, may we move with the awareness, we continuously stand in His presence and abide in Him. May our eyes remain fixed, and hearts tethered to Him.